Miliband won support for energy freeze
Miliband won support for energy freeze (Reuters)

Ed Miliband's poll lead over the Tories has doubled in the wake of the energy prices row, despite voter's reluctance to believe he will follow through with his pledge of a 20 month freeze if elected in 2015.

In a significant boost to the Labour leader, the latest findings by ComRes for the Independent newspaper, the first since the end of the autumn conference season, put Labour on 36%, eight points ahead of the Tories on 28%, its equal lowest rating since the last election.

The Liberal Democrats and UKIP are battling it out for third place on 11% and 12% respectively.

The results will partly be seen as a vindication of Miliband's surprise promise of an energy price freeze, with 80% supporting it. But perhaps more worryingly for David Cameron, the findings suggest he has failed to combat Labour's domination of the political agenda since the conference season.

That is underlined by the fact that even 69% of Tory supporters back Miliband's proposal but, overall, 52% believe he will fail to deliver if elected in 2015.

And the figures suggest the energy row has done more to harm Cameron than to help Labour, whose rating is actually 1% lower than a month before. But that will be little consolation to the prime minister who has had a bruising month since the Labour leader delivered his policy coup.

However, as Labour starts to move on from the energy row Cameron will be looking to the persistent signs of economic recovery to boost his position, and there is evidence in the latest figures to bear out this optimism.

One third of the public say they back the prime minister and Chancellor George Osborne to make the right decisions on the economy, while just 25% believe Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls can be trusted on the economy.

But perhaps the key for the government is that 43% of those who voted Labour in 2010 say they do not trust Miliband and Balls on the recovery. This plays directly into the prime minister's strategy of blaming Labour for the financial crisis and insisting the party should never again be trusted with the nation's finances.

It also gives a boost to his repeated jibe that Ed Balls continuing as shadow Chancellor is the greatest weapon he has in the run up to the next election.

Labour's greatest fear is that, as the economy continues to recover, voters will believe Cameron and Osborne have been proved right and Labour wrong over the best policies for dealing with the crisis.

That is why Miliband and Balls have been eager to move away from attacks over the recovery to focus instead on the so-called "cost of living crisis". They believe that, so long as voters fail to feel the effects of the recovery in their pockets and on their daily lives, all the good economic numbers will mean little to them.

What Cameron and Osborne are betting on is that either those concrete benefits will start feeding through in time for the 2015 campaign or that, at the very least, voters will recognise things are going in the right direction and will hand them the credit for the expected turnaround and not want to risk it all with a Labour government.


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